We can’t change people who are back-stabbers and bad managers. You just have to learn to work with them, and hope you’re able to move on quickly to a better position or job.
That’s why it’s so difficult to find answers for employees who dislike their bosses and feel it’s only a matter of time before he or she throws them under the bus.
Take jWoo. That’s her alias. She didn’t want me to use her name for fear of losing her job. But she’s just like so many workers out there, frustrated with a jerky boss and wondering what to do.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of CEOs over the years, and almost everyone had a bad boss story in their career history.
Many of these leaders told me they tried to make the best of even the worst boss situation. One executive who had a non-attentive boss sought out other managers for help. Another put aside his bosses bad qualities and focused on what he could learn from him. While another went above the head of her boss and surprisingly, he was moved to another department. It’s all about being proactive, they say, and not letting a bad boss define your career.
jWoo is also trying to be proactive and make it work.
“I work for an amazing company, I have
awesome immediate supervisors and co-workers. However, the boss (site lead)
over us all is a bit of a micro-manager that sometimes goes behind
employees’ backs in order to get results that *HE* wants, not what’s
necessarily good for the situation or something that we cannot do. He’s a
yes man to customers, but he has a tendency to act like your best friend and
will stab you in the back or step on you just to make sure that he looks
good in everything that he does. I’ve been one of those that he’s thrown
under the bus before.”
For a long time, this manager was not her direct boss. But things changed after her position was eliminated.
“I’m about to be working directly underneath him and I would like to keep my
Turns out, this guy handpicked her to work directly for him.
“I feel like he’s going to try to abuse my current skill set into something he
can mold for himself. I have IT/programming experience, and I’m being moved
into the more program management part of our company. He has no problem
promising customers something he cannot deliver and give us heck for it.”
She wants to know what to do.
There are a couple of things going on here. It’s a good thing he chose her. Clearly he thinks she’s good at what she does. I don’t care what an idiot a manager is, most tend to want to surround themselves with good people so they can at least seem like they’re able to get things done.
Lynn Taylor, workplace consultant and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant,” agrees.
And she doesn’t think there’s a lot of potential for jWoo reaching great career heights under his wing.
“It sounds like he knows and understands her significant value and skills set; does not want to lose it; but is, at the same time threatened by her talents,” she explained. “That’s why he takes credit for her work … and will unlikely provide career advance opportunities for her.”
Unfortunately, in the reality of today’s job market, getting a job at another company may not be an easy choice right now.
Taylor offered some advice for dealing with the lousy leader:
Generally speaking, these bosses need CALM; communication (frequent, honest, open and regular), anticipation (by you of what might be to come and you should be keenly aware of how to help avert it with good timing, putting communication in writing, etc.), laugh (levity breaks down barriers and helps foster teamwork); manage -use manage up tools - or as I call it “parenting up, without patronizing.” Parenting up means setting limits through positive and negative reinforcement. Bosses who act differently depending on the hierarchy are often acting out of fear, and these days, often it’s fear for their own jobs or stature.
Start and end a conversation with a complimentary tone, but in the middle, address the issues diplomatically - how they affect your work product. Bosses need to be praised for their good deeds, and remember, if there’s something in it for them, you CAN tame bad behavior (aka, tame your TOT, or terrible office tyrant.) The same goes for TOT co-workers and subordinates; they can also sabotage your work if you refuse to see past the pinstripes and pearls and blustering — to the core, childlike behaviors at “play.”
I love that, TOT. It’s all about the playground isn’t it?